by Andreas Rainer
Dolenstein – Put on chain stockings, put on a shirt with your coat of arms, ax ready: When Peter Würzberger gets ready for his training, you might mistake him for a knight on the way to the tournament. You won’t go very far in his territory with specialized sports equipment like sneakers, rackets and balls, as Würzburger operates Timbersports.
The ax, chainsaw, hearing protection and single buck (a two-metre-long one-man saw) are his tools, with which he cuts or saws blocks of wood quickly and precisely. For weeks now, the 41-year-old from Dolenstein has been training every day after work as the German championships are on September 3 and 4 in Wernigerode, Saxony-Anhalt. And there’s Wurzburger. “In the youth competition. It’s not enough for the professional category,” he jokes. Two years ago, he was struck by Timber Sports Fever. An obvious choice for his hobby, given Dolensteiner’s everyday life.
In 2002 he bought the sawmill in Bübenroth, located on the Altmühl directly between Dolenstein and Eichstadt, out of bankruptcy. He has been running the business since then. After work, his daily workplace becomes a training hall. “I’ve lived in the woods since I was a kid and had something to do with wood.” Würzburg’s father was a forester. He himself originally trained as a butcher. At that time, he could not pass up the opportunity with the sawmill and – without much stirring – changed from a meat cleaver to a circular saw.
With this temperament, becoming a Timber sportsman was no longer far off. “I’ve been interested in this for a long time. In 2019 I was at the Lumberjack Cup in Reinershofen, where you could try a penny,” Wurzberger says. A bodybuilder with upper arm muscles as thick as his thighs tried and failed miserably in front of him. Strength alone is not enough, the technique must be perfect. “I copied and copied them from the pros.” Although he had never held one of the two-metre-long, five-kilogram saws in his hands, it worked relatively well. “The supervisor at the station was impressed and said I should come to Melrichstadt for a test session.” Wurzburger did and has been there ever since.
He has now got approval for four of the five subjects in the junior category. It should be put in front of the first two trainers, “to show that you know how to use the equipment,” Wurzberger says. The 41-year-old will compete in the standing block chop, underhand chop, single buck and stock saw categories on Saturday. In English: Cut a standing piece of wood with an ax, cut a block lying on it, cut slices from a block with a man’s saw and chainsaw. Everything on time and without technical errors. Springboard is still missing. Steps have to be hammered into a tree trunk to climb up and cut through a block standing on the trunk with an ax. “My favorite single is Buck,” says Dolensteiner. “It’s the most fun and that’s it for me.” 10.4 seconds is his best time with it. The chainsaw makes a lot of noise, but from a technical point of view it is boring. “Time is all so close together, it’s the little things that matter. In other categories, you influence yourself more through strength, skill, and technique.”
Wurzburger is expected to move up to third place on Saturday. Eight participants take part in his competition. The program will be broadcast live on the main sponsor’s website www.stihl.de. “Timbersports in Germany is still small and has few class reunions. You meet the same crazy wooden idiots in every competition,” laughs Würzberger.
What is Timbersports?
Timbersports is an international competition series in the sport of logging. Wooden blocks are cut with axes, handsaw and chainsaws according to clearly defined criteria. The game has its origins in the ranks of forest workers in Australia and New Zealand. From there he moved to Canada and the USA, where he was professionalized in 1985 by chainsaw manufacturer Stihl. The championship series has existed in Europe since 2001. However, New Zealand has so far maintained its dominance in international competitions. Athletes are mostly amateurs. Only a few people in the world can make a living from it. Women’s competitions have also been held since 2013.
Competitions include six disciplines (three axes and three sawmills). Ax disciplines include the springboard, standing block chop and underhand chop. Saw disciplines are: Single Buck, Stock Saw and Hot Saw. There is no hot saw in the Junior category, where precision cuts are made with a souped-up chainsaw of up to 80 hp.
The equipment needed for this is not cheap. The cost of leg protection is still manageable, with hearing protection, safety goggles, and cut protection inserts. A particularly sharp ax costs between 600 and 800 euros per piece. The big single buck starts at 2000 euros. There are only a handful of manufacturers around the world. Poplar is the main wood used. Weymouth Pine for single buck discipline. The wood used is completely processed after the competition.
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